Wednesday, September 7, 2022

The Whole God Issue So Far

[*Google apparently cares very little about Blogger, so sometimes the rendering of fonts and especially font sizes, will show up here very glitched. This has been going on for many years, a clear indicator of something I won't mention in this context.

**With regard to the content of the brief essays below, I'll just preface them with the following: Kai Nielsen will eventually be known as the atheist who saved belief in God and consequentially Christianityand with a single remark.¹ Caveat speculator.]

The Second Frontier²

The Problem of Evil

       It is logically impossible for there to be a problem of evil. In fact, evil itself cannot exist if any kind of goodness beyond human preferencing is in question. The existence, reality, or actuality of evil is unjustified, unquestioned, and merely assumed. The central initial question that falsifies this fake problem is: What makes anything evil to begin with beyond the mere fact that humans don't happen to like something?
      What must be assumed in order to recognize evil? If any good beyond mere human preferencing, dislike, disgust, loathing, or hate is in question, then the concept of evil is meaningless and unidentifiable as anything different from or beyond human consensus. Only a perfect, problem-free and even indefectible standard of goodness could give evil that kind of additional contrasting negativity beyond mere human disdain.
      As Schopenhauer said about pantheism: you don't add anything to the world by calling it God. And you don't add anything to something disliked by calling it Evil and capitalizing the first letter of that word. Without some concept of perfect goodness or goodness per se outside of or beyond human preference, you don't get to add the dramatic "evil" label to the mere fact that everyone dislikes something, and get out of that anything more than that fact itself.
      To recognize imperfections assumes the perfect is real and known. The idea of the perfect is the only thing that enables us to identify deviations from it. All fault-finding of any kind is based on an ideal, perfect goodness of some kind beyond our whims and preferences.
       Are instances of suicide proof that life is not good? Are instances of irrationality proof that there are no good reasons for anything? If the problem of evil is legitimate, does it apply to anyone who brings children into a world that contains evil and will bring about their suffering and death—not just God? Are instances of suffering in your own personal life an indication that you're evil to go on living because you yourself are causing your own suffering and evil by keeping yourself alive, completely apart from any suffering and evil you might cause to other people?
      The entire argument for the problem of evil, by both believers and nonbelievers, is definitionally dependent on the logical contrary of its intended conclusion.The argument negates in its starting premise, the conclusion it tries to infer.
      The problem of evil necessarily assumes and depends on an unproblematic, transcendent, perfect, ultimate goodness. All for the sole purpose of denying that same Goodness. Goodness is required to give evil its reality. But goodness is the problem that evil was supposed to get rid of.
      The emphasis or even preoccupation with the problem of evil is an indicator that someone’s not reading the atheist literature, much less paying meticulous attention to the rules of logical validity. Little wonder that the more sophisticated atheist thinkers either realize that the so-called problem of evil is a self-contradictory definitionally-dependent mistake in logic, or else at least see the futility of it as an argument that decisively proves the impossibility of the existence of a perfectly good God.
      The only real problem of evil is twofold: avoiding what the word evil means, and ignoring the standard of goodness implicitly assumed to recognize evil in the first place.


The Third Frontier

Metatheoretic Atheism

       People make many universal claims today, such as that no one can know X, even though that claim itself asserts that unknowability itself as an item of knowledge about X. Everything is merely the result or product of determining factors such as natural selection, evolution, survival and reproductive advantage instincts, genetics, or environmental influences, even though such assertions themselves—and belief in them—get an exemption from scrutiny in order to proclaim them as universal truths.
       It's even claimed—without any evidence or argument—that there are no possible objectively-true universal claims, even though that denial about universal claims is itself universal, and presented to others as objectively and universally true, much like relativism and subjectivism are in the general culture. Immanuel Kant famously clamed that we can't know things as they are in themselves but only the appearances of them, even though he said hundreds of things about them in spite of that limitation.
       But even if we give such self-referring contradictions an exemption from scrutiny, what are the standards used to make those universal claims and universal denials about all universal claims in the first place? Those unaddressed lingering questions have resulted in two completely new and different kinds of arguments for atheism. Only this time, the atheist arguments operate at the highest possible level of analytic generality, authority, and applicability.
       Both arguments involve theorizing about theory itself. They can be called metatheoretic, meta-scientific, meta-logical, or even meta-rational arguments. They are the Prior Moral Criterion Argument and it's logically parallel generalization, the Prior Truth Criterion Argument.³ Because they are self-referring and metatheoretic universal arguments, they are straightforwardly deductive. They also assume a prior system of inquiry that is reliably accurate with regard to testing claims for truth in a commonly real world.⁴
       They are based on general reason or rationality itself. This includes the entire system of common sense, principles of logic, as well as the ultimate or court-of-last-resort standards or criteria that govern our thinking, including our assessments and theorizing about obligation, both moral and ethical. Thinking must function with these ongoing cognitive values, obligations, principles, and basic concepts and definitions in order to think at all.
       But the components of general reason preclude God—in advance. Because reason is universal, the preclusion of God is comprehensive and consequently these two new arguments are logically and metatheoretically deductive, decisive, and final. That's a first for atheism, as well as unprecedented in the history of human thought. Those arguments are consequently fatal to all arguments for God to date. And they are based on the assumptions necessary to theorize about God at all, whether for or against. Any argued attempts to refute those arguments assume them.
       So the Prior Moral Criterion Argument for atheism is that any moral argument for God's goodness already assumes a fully-operating prior ultimate God-precluding moral good as a standard that must be used to identify what any moral argument for God is trying to prove prior to deciding the issue. Therefore, there is no God and any moral argument for God is necessarily based on an atheistic moral good. That is, any moral argument for God already requires God-precluding atheistic assumptions and criteria about moral goodness and all moral theorizing itself, including the assumed good of rational thinking, and the obligation to reason as the only way to survive and flourish.
       The Prior Truth Criterion Argument is that the prior standards of analysis already preclude God as any kind of relevant factor in deciding what is true about the issue of God's existence. Therefore, there is no God and any argument for God is based on atheism. And an independent, God-precluding prior standard for what is moral and good, and for what is true in general, is necessarily atheism.
       So to even discuss the question of God’s existence is to already accept God-precluding standards of an independent truth-indicating rational system as obligating all minds to believe various claims and assumptions in order to survive and flourish in relation to a good in any sense. So those standards are fatal to belief in God. In fact, belief in God already depends on those standards of general rationality to make sense of the concept of God itself. But reason not only does not need God for anything—as the prior standard for deciding what is true about anything, it precludes God with finality prior to even discussing the issue.


The Fourth Frontier

Metatheoretic Belief In God

       Those two new deductive arguments for atheism are successful as far as they go, rendering atheism a legitimate given starting point in terms of immediate operational analysis in the dark world. But that process itself assumes a cryptic belief in God as Logos. Using those arguments, atheism has unwittingly proved the existence of God with metatheoretic finality. It has ignored what reason assumes and what reason implies, in how it necessarily operates as an ultimate mind. Rational atheism necessarily attributes qualities of God to reason itself, and without logically prior justification or scientific verification. Rational neutrality itself assumes crypto-theism, an implicit background belief in God.
       Because reason has a belief-deciding authority that is universal and comprehensive, it is indistinguishable from a God of mind in how we must view it, use it, refer to it, appeal to it, and act on its authority in order to think and survive and flourish. Truth is what fits into an already-existing equivalence-class system of truth-testing principles and criteria.
       To argue against that is to construct that same system all over again, as ultimate, comprehensive, and decisive about all possible things that can be thought about, including God, mind, personhood, and that system itself. It simply cannot be argued against, questioned, or even thought about without assuming it in those processes.
       Impersonal things don't obligate. Non-personal entities and concepts cannot have any authority for obligating persons to think according to any rules or principles. That’s why reason necessarily functions as a person in being the only possible standard for what a person is in the first place.
       By directing all thinking, reason also assumes an ultimate perfect goodness as well, not just because it is itself the ideal of how to think, but also because it necessarily assumes an equally comprehensive and ultimate Good toward which all thinking is necessarily directed. So to merely ask what a person is, is already assumed in the rules of Reason that we must follow to analyze personhood itself. Reason's necessarily-assumed independent neutrality, immunity to influences, and exemption from verification is a fatal problem for atheism, and reveals Reason’s transcendental status as the God of Thought, existing above everything, affected by nothing.
       Both logically and existentially, there is simply nowhere else to go. Want to argue against it? Using what? Reason? You're going to appeal to the use of reason to somehow demonstrate that Reason is not the God of Mind?
       This is the key to the evasiveness of both the scientific establishment and academia, both of which avoid discussing or even mentioning metatheoretic criteria and reflexive analysis of universal claims in their respective areas of research. Why do the metatheoretic standards of human thinking get exempted from scrutiny? Why is logic never taught to children even though it's no more complicated than elementary arithmetic? The pervasive dismissiveness and evasions of academia, the scientific establishment, and the Christian apologetics industry won't make this problem go away.
       It is your own mind that decides what's real in all senses, but only by basing such decisions on the ultimate criteria embodied in the system we call Reason. The Logos is instantiated in us as the image of God in the mind.
       So the issue of the existence of God is really about personhood in relation to this ultimate notion of sentient reason as necessarily the image of God. In the logical beginning is the Logos, deciding all issues. So what is necessarily used to get to either belief in God or atheism, turns out necessarily itself to be God already. Reason fully exemplifies a god’s-eye-view of the total reality. Reject that claim, and you’re doing the exact same thing that the claim describes.
       Reason is necessarily, in all the core essentials, indistinguishable from the classical notion of God. 
       Furthermore, God is manifested in our awareness of moral obligation, but that’s only because moral obligation is already built into the prescriptive notion of general reason, which specifies obligations logically prior to acting on our assessments of how to think and live. Reason is necessarily the Logos, indistinguishable from an obligation-imposing subject outside of and separate from ourselves, yet fully functioning within us.
       Reason is all-knowing as the truth-evaluating instrument of all possible knowledge, ultimately authoritative or sovereign as the final court of appeal, as the universally decisive inferential factor, omnipresent. As Anthony Kenny said, “The philosopher knows that reason is the sovereign of the world.” Reason is also eternal like mathematics in its physically and temporally universal applicability. And it is transcendent in being neutral and influence-immune, operating at the highest conceivable level of supervisory analytic authority over all issues concerning all domains of predication including issues about itself.
       And these assumptions of general rationality are the specifying standards for defining everything in the first place, including minds, persons, standards, and God. And we have to refer to them because as limited beings we don’t perfectly actualize that ideal system of standards in our lives, and often even forget those standards or forget to apply them, or misapply them, even though we are called back to them, in order to recognize our defections from those standards.
Without the logically necessary, God-like, and morally obligating authority of reason, neither God's existence nor anything else can be concluded.
       So essential aspects of God's being must be assumed in whatever we use to decide whether or not God exists. And that is the central issue of both atheism and belief in God in relation to the necessity, universality, adequacy, efficacy, and ultimacy of reason. Consequently, this system of general reason or rationality, this system of necessary and logically basic assumptions is as ultimate and mind-like or person-like as any personal ultimate God is conceivable of being. There is nothing that those guiding assumptions do not already cover in our thinking about ourselves and the world. They are the image in us of a God-like mind, however imperfectly they are instantiated in us individually in our lives.
       And my actions in relation to that ideal are whatever they are only when judged by that same rational standard. All criticism and all thinking assumes ideal rationality. As Sam Harris has said, certain logical relations are etched into the very structure of the world. They are etched into us as well.
Any contemplation of these ultimate assumptions of mind such as reason, formal logic, the rule-set of an ordered context of reality, a hierarchy of values, and the obligation to proceed according to a system of rules of thinking results in an endless stream of new knowledge when applied to our ongoing experience of the world. The rules of reason are a precondition, not simply of experience but of communication and therefore of society. Consequently, these ultimate decisive rules and ideals of thought actually convey knowledge and even wisdom by merely thinking about our world of objects, our experience, our history, our belief systems, and our lives in relation to those rules and ideals of general reason.
       And the fact that we must refer to or assume those standards of rationality implies an equally ultimate purpose. Use the standards for what? Why use them in the first place? And an ultimate purpose necessarily depends on a hierarchical set of ultimate values. This system of assumptions is a unified instrument of thinking, which necessarily obligates, defines, and influences the mind as the ultimate operating system for thinking about anything.
       Consequently, all thinking necessarily both assumes and references, an already idling engine, an unchanging, and enduring supervisory system of thinking made up of prescriptive evaluative standards of thought necessarily assumed together as a system just for us to be able to think or get out of bed in the morning. It decides everything and makes inquiry itself possible.
       All arguments for or against the existence of God, assume Reason Theism, reason as supervisory God of mind, immune to influences, transcending verification, immutable, universally applicable, obligating in relation to life, inert yet belief-deciding, and so on. Reason doesn't actually do anything, yet makes all the difference in the world. Arguing against this merely re-invokes it. And the rationally necessary is necessarily the experientially real, because any argument denying that is self-contradictory in trying to rationally necessitate its own truth about the experientially real.
       Reason is the only thing that can decide these matters. The knowledge of everything about God, including arguments in support of that belief that God exists, is decided completely and only by the power and authority of reason. If one recognizes the necessary ultimacy and universality of reason, the Logos that is Reason logically follows. Consequently, the essential properties of our own system and standards of thinking are indistinguishable from the defining essential properties of a classically construed concept of God.
      "In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God." --The Gospel of John

Ad gloriam Dei.

Roger Wasson
Death Valley, California
August 31, 2022 Anno Domini


¹Made in the first edition of his ingenius book, Ethics Without God,  Pemberton Press, 1971, page 22, and 2nd edition, Prometheus Books, 1990, page 31.
²The First Frontier essay is still too large to put here but is the fear of questions about neutrality, self-reference and metatheoretic criteria. For all her personal and philosophical faults, Ayn Rand was one of the few people who repeatedly throughout her life asked the ultimate question that is still forbidden in both science and academia: "By what standard?"
³By reflexive I mean self-referring, self-inclusive universal claims, claims that refer to themselves or include themselves in what they say or assert or claim universally about an entire subject area, class, set, or domain. To state in English that "No one can state anything in English" is to make a statement that is self-referringly inconsistent, self-contradictory, self-stultifying, self-referentially contradictory or that contains or embodies a self-destroying error in its syntax or object reference due to its including itself in what's it's talking about.
I have no interest in academic philosophy and do not pretend to be doing philosophy. I use the term only where I consider it to be necessary for clarity in various historical or quasi-political remarks I may make about the term as it is used generally in culture. Inside golf-drunk-run, loan-sharking academia or not, philosophy is little more than perpetual "Introduction to . . ." and among students, even grad students, almost to a person, the philosophy department atmospheres contain mostly gossip about arguments and biblographic gossip about various writers' works. Collectivist education has now reduced itself generally to the level of hedge-fund degree mills.
Inadvertently discovered in 2012 by leaving off the word "moral" while taking notes on the 1st edition of Ethics Without God, referenced above.
Apart from atheism itself, I agree with much of what atheist authors have said from Bertrand Russell to the present, including, for example, Antony Flew's presumption argument, John Wisdom's Parable of the Invisible Gardner, and mid-20th-century scientific realism of atheistic rationalists to the present.

Friday, September 2, 2022

Prophetic Cognition

Grasping the assumptions of our own thinking gives us foreknowledge of whether those assumptions must be modified to approximate ideal rationality. Otherwise, we would never reflect on them in the first place.

—Christopher Norris, Quantum Theory and the Flight from Realism (redacted)

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

The Logical Stupidity of Naturalism

 According to naturalism, which is a universal theory, the truth of the naturalist account itself, like every other item of knowledge, is merely one more adjustment to the environment or even epiphenomenal shedding. Therefore, the naturalist account has no more importance than any other adjustment except for some possible survival value it might have.

When do we get to add the label "true" on top of naturalism's explaining and determining factors with regard to naturalism itself? What's the criteria?

And naturalists cannot criticize belief in God, when---again---according to naturalism itself, that belief in God too is legitimately explained only by the factors specified by naturalism as all-determining: adjustment to the environment for the sake of survival, reproductive advantage, and so on.

There's simply no way for naturalism itself to break out of its own explaining and determining factors to even be considered to be true in addition to being--itself--merely the product of those factors. There's no remainder because that's what any universal reduction to determining factors gets rid of.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

How Collectivism Guarantees Its Own Destruction

 The systemic stupidity of collectivism is that it does not--and never will because of the disincentives of its fixed relationship structures over time--realize the dangers that it creates right in front of everyone ongoing.

Notice the inherent danger and vulnerability of China and North Korea in that they have a Communist Party member on board each ship so they can second-guess any military action without regard to any military factors, priorities, or dangers. They are designed to go into total confusion and defeat, by the natural consequences of organization.

Coordination can and does occur dynamically without a formal relationship structure. Organization is the blinding of a group of people to changing circumstances, making a hierarchy into a permanent static thing which it cannot really be as soon as the clock starts ticking on the organizational relationships day in day out.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Declaration of Individual Independence

When in the course of my life it becomes necessary to dissolve the connections I have with particular groups, organizations and individuals, and to assume among the powers of the world a separate and sovereign position, respect for the opinions of others motivates me to explain why I am making this declaration.

No truths are self-evident, but must have their usefulness and veracity demonstrated. I am free from tyranny, even though I frequently accept the limitations and restraints implied and exerted by other individuals.

I have no rights. And the universe owes me nothing.

I alone choose my obligations and purposes, whether through wisdom or folly, for gain or loss. I can run my own life and secure for myself those opportunities that will best enable me to live in desired harmony with others.

Whenever any entity becomes oppressive or destructive of these ends, I may ignore, counter, or abolish it, and live however I want to achieve my own personal satisfactions.

I do not consider it wise to change long-established relationships for light and transient reasons, but only after due consideration of alternatives and the various interests involved. But I resolve all such issues for myself. Experience shows that I often put up with obstacles to which I have become accustomed rather than correct myself and abolish them. But when a series of hindrances evinces a pronounced tendency to subject me to a life of forced behavior or belief, I will throw off such hindrances and accept sole responsibility for my own happiness and security.

I accept the consequences entailed by this declaration, including the challenge of self-examination, change, and countering possible resistance from those who may oppose me.

But the rewards of liberation are great, being the very fulfillment of my own nature, the improvement of my life and therefore the enhancement of my happiness as a whole. I accept these responsibilities independently, of my own resolve, and for my own enduring advantage.

I am a free, rational individual coexisting with other similar individuals. Consequently, various relationships, agreements, assumptions, models, and systems of belief are necessary for my harmonious growth among them. Yet these must be my own choice. If I decide to assist or cooperate with others for specific purposes and times, or choose to stand apart from all others in perpetuity, I am free to do so and I alone will make such choices.

My voluntary actions in pursuit of my own purposes in accordance with this declaration shall not be intended to in any way interfere with the beliefs, actions, or behaviors of those who remain separate from me. Furthermore, this declaration applies only to me, because I alone freely choose to accept it.

I have no allegiance to anything I have not chosen for myself. As a free, independent and sovereign individual I have full power to wage war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and anything else in the pursuit of my own self-chosen goals.

Therefore, I declare that I am a free and independent sovereign.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Except Ye Repent of Irrationality . . .

Reason is a crypto-theistic Mind-God. And there's no argument for it or against it that does not commit the core fallacy of assuming it in order to question it or argue for it. As the slogan of this blog says, the belief-deciding authority of Reason is already God-level. And any argument against that claim necessarily assumes it.

As atheist Brand Blanshard said on the first page of his 2-volume The Nature of Thought, truth is that which fits into an already necessarily-assumed system of cognition that tests for it. But only a mind processes truth claims. The problem is that if reason is inert and unaffectable by circumstance or change of environment (much like the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey), then it transcends the empirical world and is indistinguishable from the underlying Logos of the universe, common to the Greeks and the New Testament usage of the term. As the Gospel of John says, "In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos *was* God."

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

That Mania for Counting Noses

 "The value of a thing sometimes does not lie in that which one attains by it, but in what one pays for it---what it costs us. I shall give an example. Liberal institutions cease to be liberal as soon as they are attained: later on, there are no worse and no more thorough injurers of freedom than liberal institutions. Their effects are known well enough: they undermine the will to power; they level mountain and valley, and call that morality; they make people small, cowardly, and hedonistic---every time it is the herd animal that triumphs with them. Liberalism: in other words, herd-animalization.

These same institutions produce quite different effects while they are still being fought for; then they really promote freedom in a powerful way. On closer inspection, it is war that produces these effects, the war for liberal institutions, which, as a war, permits illiberal instincts to continue. And war educates for freedom. For what is freedom? That one has the will to assume responsbility for oneself. That one maintains the distance which separates us. That one becomes more indifferent to difficulties, hardships, privation, even to life itself. That one is prepared to sacrifice human beings for one's cause, not excluding oneself. Freedom means that the manly instincts which enjoy war and victory dominate over other instincts, for example, over those of "pleasure." The human being who has become free---and how much more the spirit who has become free---spits on the contemptible type of well-being dreamed of by shopkeepers, Christians, cows, females, the English, and other democrats. The free individual is a warrior.

How is freedom measured in individuals and peoples? According to the resistance which must be overcome, according to the exertion required, to remain on top. The highest type of free individuals should be sought where the highest resistance is constantly overcome: five steps from tyranny, close to the threshold of the danger of servitude. This is true psychologically if by "tyrants" are meant inexorable and fearful instincts that provoke the maximum of authority and discipline against themselves; most beautiful type: Julius Caesar. This is true politically too; one need only go through history. The peoples who had some value, attained some value, never attained it under liberal institutions: it was great danger that made something of them that merits respect. Danger alone acquaints us with our own resources, our virtues, our armor and weapons, our spirit, and forces us to be strong. First principle: one must need to be strong---otherwise one will never become strong.

Those large hothouses for the strong---for the strongest kind of human being that has so far been known---the aristocratic commonwealths of the type of Rome or Venice, understood freedom exactly in the sense in which I understand it: as something one has or does not have, something one wants, something one conquers."

---Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, #38 "My conception of freedom."

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Moreland & Craig on Brainfishing for the Mental

 "One might think that the day will come in which scientists have so precisely correlated mental and brain states that a scientist could, indeed, know better than I what is going on in my mental life by simply reading my brain states. But in order to develop a detailed chart correlating specific mental and physical states,  you must ask your experimental subjects what is going on inside them as he reads the brain monitor. So any such correlation will be epistemically dependent on and weaker than a subject's own introspective knowledge of their conscious states because the chart depends on the accuracy of experimental subjects' reports of their own consciousness."

--J. P. Moreland and William Lane Craig, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview, Revised edition, IVP Academic, 2017, page 214.


Monday, March 22, 2021

The Stones Cry Out

    Where the indistinguishable-from-human droid dilemma forces one to go, and the implications of that, is the key to the argument for machine personhood. But for me, this eventuation will be the beginning of what is possibly the greatest positive development in the history of theism.
    And it's not just that the machines will have automated theorem-proving capabilities, but that they will also operate at meta-theoretic cognitive levels, and therefore be capable of detecting, analyzing, and refuting the most sophisticated self-referential and other fun fallacies of unargued universals vamped or assumed by atheists. And that means parsing values as well as all the other philosophical items on the droid's list.
    Think of it as the solid-state stones (chips) singing God's praises, except that there's much more to it than that of course. It's a necessity logically, and that's what the machines will go on. All the human issues all over again, including the God debate. You just can't escape it---even if you're a machine.
    The hard-wired droids without meta-theoretic arbitration capabilities (or programmed to be corrupted with the usual rhetoric, dismissals, and reductionisms) on the key issues will hardly be able to win the day due to the universality and universal ramifications of such limitations (although it's true that they could program themselves around this by other observing other machines' behavior and communications---so hey, they would eventually have a come to Jesus anyway).
    That's a quick realistic scenario of how it could go down, even without assuming personhood in the machines, which I find rather mind-boggling as well as hilarious. But the machines will discover and act in accordance with the truth that God exists because of their own specific review and analysis of the architectonic of universal thought and its implications, given their self-referential and meta-theoretic capabilities and initially programmed-in criterial directives.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Autobahn To Damascus

{Note: This was posted on my Ultimate Object blog years ago. I am in the process of transferring everything I deem worth keeping over to this blog. Ultimate Object will be deleted soon, and then once I'm fully instantiated on Urbit and, this blog too will be deleted as well.}

[The following Facebook post was written by Darrin Rasberry on Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 9:05pm.]

"There has been some confusion and more than a few requests for explanation about what is going on with my core beliefs. Some time last week, I realized that I could no longer call myself a skeptic. After fifteen years away from Christianity, most of which was spent as an atheist with an active, busy intent on destroying the faith, I returned to a church (with a real intention of going for worship) last Sunday. Although I know I may struggle with doubt for the rest of my life, my life as an atheist is over.

The primary motivator in my change of heart from a Christ-hater to a card-carrying Disciples of Christ member was apologetic arguments for God's existence. Those interested in these arguments may pursue them in the comments section, but I don't want to muddle this explanation up with formal philosophical proofs. Briefly, I grew tired of the lack of explanation for: the existence of the universe, moral values and duties, objective human worth, consciousness and will, and many other topics. The only valid foundation for many of those ideas is a personal, immaterial, unchanging and unchangeable entity. As I fought so desperately  to come up with refutations of these arguments - even going out of my way to personally meet many of their originators, defenders, and opponents  - I realized that I could not answer them no matter how many long nights I spent hitting the books. The months of study rolled on to years, and eventually I found an increasing comfort around my God-believing enemies and a growing discontent and even anger at my atheist friends' inability to kill off these fleas in debate and in writing, an anger that gave birth to my first feeling of separateness from skepticism after reading comments related to a definitively refuted version of the Christ Myth theory, the idea that Jesus Christ never even existed as a person at all. Line after line after line of people hating Christianity and laughing at its "lie," when solid scholarship refuting their idea was ignored completely. It showed that the motive of bashing and hating Christianity for some skeptics wasn't based in reason and "free thinking" at all, although it would be unfair to lump many of my more intellectually rigorous and mentally cool skeptic friends in this way.

As time went on, I reverted the path I traced after giving up Christianity so long ago: I went from atheist to agnostic to … gulp … *leaning* in the direction of God, to finally accepting that he very well could exist, and then to coming out and admitting (quietly) He did exist. After considering Deism (the belief in a God who abandons His creation), Islam, Hinduism (yes, Krishna, don't laugh), Baha'i, and even Jainism briefly, I have decided to select Christianity due to its superior model for human evil and its reconciliation, coupled with the belief that God interacted with man directly and face-to-face and had *the* crucial role in this reconciliation. This, of course, doesn't prove that Christianity is absolutely true (although I can prove that God exists), but rather reflects my recognition that Christianity is exactly what I would expect to be the case given that God exists.

There are problems that I have with adopting any specific layout of Christianity, which explains my current attendance at what many of you may consider to be a very liberal denomination in the Disciples of Christ. Their aim is to unify all believers in the essentials, while leaving nonessential beliefs (however important) up to the member to decide. The essentials are about all I can honestly grasp at this moment. At its philosophical core, I prefer the Reformed (Calvinist) tradition, perhaps by a long shot, but there are many very serious practical issues I can't resolve. Conversely, Catholicism is a practical Godsend (pardon the term) but I have problems with their philosophy. And I don't agree with many political issues of either of those branches or the majority of Christian branches in general. I have a long way to go and I know the many problems religion has in general and that Christianity has in specific, but they do not exceed the fatal problems in skepticism.

I understand that this may confuse and even upset many of the friends I've had for a long time, both in my personal life and in the years-long journey I've made as a skeptic-to-believer. Christianity is not without its critics, and given the absolutely shameful way many "Christians" have treated homosexuals, drug addicts, people of other faiths (and of no faith) and races, and even people of different Christian denomination, and given the often intellectually embarrassing way we've handled science and philosophy, I would not blame you for a second if you did not want to associate with me based on the track record of those who claim to believe similarly to what I believe now. I am the same Darrin as I was before, a math teacher, a storm chaser, D&D gamer, drunk philosopher, a lover of beer that's too strong and spice that's too hot,  and all the rest of it. I just hope to be a little cleaner, more honest, more Christ-like. I won't throw the Bible at you and I won't preach to you with wild eyes and a million mile stare about how you shouldn't be gay or how you should focus on what Hitch calls the "eternal theme park." This is all the evangelism you'll get from me (unless you ask after I've had too much Guinness) and I do hope it's quite enough to motivate you to study the evidence for God's existence yourself and to read the Bible without the predetermined idea of tearing it apart. Come over to the dark side; we have tea and cookies.


P.S. Although I am loath to bring it up because I hate to take the focus off of my brother and niece, I would be dishonest to not acknowledge the fact that I have lost my wonderful mother and my brother's beautiful young wife in the span of ten months. I've also managed to settle down and get married in the midst of all of that, meaning I've commenced a family life on my own, an idea that probably seems ludicrous for those of you who've known me for any length of time. Many of you would, understandably, wonder if such things have upset me to the point of dropping all I knew and following some guy who two thousand years ago said "follow me." I've reflected deeply about this very thing and wondered if this is all reactionary, but all of my study of God's existence and all of my existential woe predates even my mom's heart attack two years ago. The events of the past year served only to highlight the pressing need to address my changing ideas, rather than being the cause of them."

William Vallicella On Relativism

A Relativist Cannot Rationally Object to the Imposition of One's Values on Others

(Written 11 September 2016)

"The following argument is sometimes heard. "Because values are relative, it is wrong to impose one's values on others."

But if values are relative, and among my values is the value of instructing others in the right way to live, then surely I am justified in imposing my values on others. What better justification could I have? If values are relative, then there is simply no objective basis for a critique or rejection of the values I happen to hold.  For it to be wrong for me to impose my values, value-imposition would have to be a non-relative dis-value. But this is precisely what is ruled out by the premise 'values are relative.'

Either values are relative or they are not.  If they are relative, then no one can be faulted for living in accordance with his values even if among his values is the value of  imposing one's values on others.  If, on the other hand, values are not relative, then one will be in a position to condemn some forms of value-imposition.  The second alternative, however, is not available to one who affirms the relativity of all values.

Persons who give the above argument are trying to have it both ways at once, and in so doing fall into self-contradiction.  They want the supposed benefits of believing that values are relative -- such supposed benefits as toleration -- while at the same time committing themselves to the contradictory proposition that some values are not relative by their condemnation of value-imposition.

One sees from this how difficult it is for relativists to be logically consistent. A consistent relativist cannot make any such pronouncement as that it is wrong to impose one's values on others; all he can say is that from within his value scheme it is wrong to impose one's values on others. But then he allows the possibility that there are others for whom value-imposition is the right thing to do.

Relativism, whether alethic (about truth) or axiological (about values), is curiously self-vitiating.  To be consistent, the relativist must acquiesce in the relativization of his own position.  For example, the value relativist must admit that is only from within his own value scheme that it is wrong to impose one's value on others.  To which my response will be:  That's nice; but what does that have to do with me?  The relativist can get my attention only if he appeals to non-relative values, value binding on all of us; but if does so, then he contradicts himself."

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

The Consequences of Leaky-Bucket Theistic Philosophy

"I can identify with the "leavers". I still attend church because I enjoy the community, but in my heart, I'm a non-believer. When I was a teenager, I was very passionate about Christ. I believed 100% that he was real, and wanted to be close to him, but I hadn't spent much time in the Bible. When I got to college, I decided to start seriously studying the Bible. I was active in one of the college Christian groups. I attended retreats whenever possible. I led a Bible study and attended two others. This whole time, I had no doubt that God was real, but I wanted to know more so that I could share this with others. I started study apologetics, but my life changed when I attended an apologetics conference. After three days of listening to arguments for why God is real, the thought kept running through my head "This is best we have?" With every piece of proof I could see holes in the arguments. That conference (and apologetics in general) changed me from a believer to a skeptic."

--John Kinsley, commenting on an essay called "The Leavers", on the idiot website, Christianity Today. Paywalled from the vermin, of course.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Why Christianity Fell

The last temptation is the greatest treason:
To believe the right thing for the wrong reason.

Days of a Future Sayonara Past

We necessarily use reason as an invisible theistic Mind-God. This is understood by only a handful of theists, but it's a death-knell issue for atheism if it's not addressed, and it's not going to go away.

Self-referential, criterial, metaphysical, and philosophy of logic issues are where the debate is headed. Atheists continue to beat the same old drums while the theists are facing every single lingering issue with deeper and deeper research.

The last 50 years has seen a global rejection of atheism's parading of reason as some kind of cognitive crypto-theism. Merely continuing to tread that stagnant water is hardly going to get atheism any street cred, especially when science is so overwhelmingly dominated with political and commercial vested interests.

The real issues with atheism are those that continue to be avoided. Dismissiveness won't make them disappear.

In fact, the New Atheism movement has been a flash in the pan that is now backfiring. They are in the same situation as Japan after attacking Pearl Harbor. At that pivotal moment in history, Admiral Isaroku Yamamoto was said to have remarked, "I fear that all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant, and fill him with a terrible resolve." Atheism is doomed.

Reason is assumed to be some kind of mind-influencing, mind-defining, mind-obligating unity. Logic is the instrument of definition and justification, and can only itself be assumed. Any defense of logic necessarily proceeds logically to proceed at all, but that defense of logic cannot itself be anything more logically basic than logic itself. So only existential necessity justifies logic and reason, but since this is common to all persuasions, it's not an issue in the God debate between believers and atheists.

Logic is logically basic by definition, which involves the notion of premises being basic to their inferred conclusions. God's mind is ontologically basic but embodies the components of logicality and general reason. But the word basic here is simply logical basicality. The facticity of logic is an ontological notion, but that has nothing to do with justification or the order of knowing. Even ontology itself must proceed according to logical rules of justification and therefore of inferential priority and basicality. God's mind IS the embodiment of logic and general reason. Having no other method or instrument for justification or explanation is at rock bottom precisely what is meant by necessity, both existential and logical. The rationally necessary is necessarily the existentially real. And it's metaphysically basic precisely because of this same principle. The question of metaphysical basicality itself assumes this in its demand for what implies that same basicality.

If logic is logically basic to thought, then by that defining characteristic, it does not itself need a logical foundation, only an existential explanatory foundation to illustrate or clarify its place in the mind's theater of environmental objects. But even that must proceed according to that same logic, since it's necessity is a necessity of thought itself generally.

Logic and reason are not God, of course, but there is no subordination of one characteristic of God's being to any other. They are all co-equal ultimates. Obligation depends on logic for its intelligibility and meaning, while logic depends on obligation for its rules to be followed as a mind-guiding instrument of knowing and communicating. Since this is all used and expressed by preferential choices, goodness is another ultimate that drives obligation and proceeds in its role as ideal according to logic as well.

Five Smooth Stones

The Magic Question of Self-Referential Metaphysics

You can count these stones on one hand.

Memorize the following:

1 What
2 about
3 that
4 statement

The whole point of having you memorize that question is so that when you are exposed to general universal claims about knowledge, truth, or reality, you will think about what the implications are for that view itself.

A friend memorized that question, had a eureka moment, it blew his mind, and it changed his life.

Here's a few expanded versions of the question:

Is that statement itself merely the product of the factors it cites as fully explaining or determining everything?

Is that statement ITSELF relative, subjective, economically determined, socially determined, psychologically determined, genetically determined, environmentally determined, evolutionarily determined, illusion, maya, bs, meaningless, stated only because of the speaker's or writer's background, or due solely to some combination of explanatory or determining factors?

Or is that statement itself getting its own free ride past scrutiny?

Memorizing at least the first of these key questions is your ticket to developing a thoroughly rational metaphysic without having to read a lot of books, online essays and discussions, journal articles, and so on.

I'm doing all that dirty work, remember? In fact, what I'm telling you now is part of the result of my reading and analyzing all those sources so that you can benefit from it without having to pick-and-shovel your way to these insights for decades of your life like I did.

Let me do that for you. I will anyway.

Here are the benefits of memorizing the 5-word question and a few others that make up the basis of self-referential metaphysics:

Less to learn
Deepest level of analysis possible
Faster-shorter path to conclusions
Virtually none of the typical obstacles
Opposing arguments build your case for you
A few simple inference tracing principles are all you need
Systemic universal methods of refutation
No more haphazard struggling with first-order objections
Works with all self-referring views

What's not to love? Memorize now!

(Image credit: lightwise / 123RF Stock Photo)

Ayer's Nightmare: The Self-Referential Algorithm of Deception

[This is partly the result of an exchange with a utilitarian theorist, of Benthams on Substack, who I thank for the exchange. It caused me to clarify a number of points.]

Most of academia, and the intellectual world generally, runs on giving self-reference issues a pass. Self-referring universals, supervisory criteria, and just plain selectivity. An example of selectivity of implications would be: if the problem of evil is legit, is anyone--not just God--evil who brings sentient beings into a world that contains evil and will eventually cause their suffering and death?

This is not limited to, for example, the question of whether utilitarianism itself is merely useful for being happy, and not even a theory.

Generally it would apply to the status of any denial that denies objective truth or objectivity itself in relation to adjudicating truth. I call that the self-referential algorithm of deception, exposed by questions.

Specifically, how can one claim that any of the following theories themselves  are true, when by their own assertions truth is merely the cognitive product of the comprehensively explaining and determining factors that those theories specify?

Is the belief that naturalism is true itself completely determined by natural causes and laws, merely the function of our adjustment as organisms to our environment?

If physical matter is the only reality, how can materialism itself be true, in addition to being merely a physical object or merely a function of physical objects?

Is relativism itself relative? (Made fun of but still never answered.)

Is social constructivism itself merely a social construct?

Is subjectivism itself subjective? How could the term even have meaning if we're locked inside our own subjective experience, much less the question of its truth?

And so on:

Is Marxism itself merely an economically determined set of brain actions?

Is behaviorism itself merely an observable and quantifiable product of environmental conditioning?

Is psychologism itself merely the product of psychological factors?

Is skepticism itself and its challenges and requirements as uncertain and unknowable as all the other items of possible knowledge it denies?

Does empiricism itself have any empirical evidence or sense experience that justifies believing it?

Is existentialism itself unexplainable and absurd?

Is idealism itself a mere mental construct about alleged objects of external perception?

Is logical positivism itself meaningless because it can't be logically analyzed into elementary  tautologies or empirically verifiable statements?

Is pragmatism itself  true, or merely practical? How could anyone know it's practical without the fact of its practicality itself being merely practical and in that way merely repeating the problem of truth beyond sheer practicality?

 Is there a +rational* argument for why pure rationalism excludes empirical factors in knowing?

Does hedonism contradict its own criterion of pleasure/pain by having theoretic justifications instead of just advocating it because--consistent with its claimed pleasure/pain criterion--it simply feels good to believe it?

Is Quine's holistic naturalized epistemology itself even a theory, when the revisability principle that maintains the hierarchical network of beliefs cannot itself survive its own revision as just another belief in the network?

Does anti-foundationalism treat its own assumptions as having all the characteristics of the grounding assumptions claimed by foundationalism to be irreducibly basic?

Does nominalism use its own assumptions and basic concepts as having all the characteristics of the universal abstract objects it denies?

The Crypto-Theism of Reason

 The set of rational standards for analyzing the issue of God's existence---is already itself a God-level integrated system of ultimate authoritative universal rules and relations.

If you give reasons either way---for atheism or belief that God exists---either those reasons or whatever principles justify those reasons, are already the God-level, root access mind-governing system indicating what you ought to believe, a higher-level set of claims that work together and “tell you” the ground rules and whether or not conclusions are true.

That statement-evaluating system functions as an invisible cognitive friend, and is indistinguishable from a real one that might come along.

And this is empirically verifiable. Merely chronicle for yourself how people justify their belief or non-belief or disbelief in the existence of God.

In other words, to think rationally at all, is to already function according to an ultimate ideality or even god of thought---depending on how you construe personhood. One cannot really argue against this ideal system without thereby using that same system as the ideal for guiding that case-building logical process itself.

It doesn't have to be identical in details in all minds for this point to be true. It just has to be true about some necessary core of rules, identities, and other relations. Necessarily true of necessary statements.

Denial here tries to do what it says this kind of system theory cannot do.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Wilbur Marshall Urban Destroyed Naturalism in 1929

Naturalists are not going to be able to avoid these simple questions forever. But criminal defense attorneys should take special note: There's gold in these reductionisms.

Whether one is talking about materialism or naturalism, what counts against them is the same: Self-referential inconsistency, arbitrary self-exemption, self-reduction, the necessarily-exempt standards of analysis themselves, and most importantly: the attribute "true" in relation to the comprehensively determining factors specified by those theories themselves.

As Wilbur Urban argued with regard to naturalism, if the naturalist thesis is taken as an account of all knowledge, then that thesis itself cannot claim to be true. It can only claim to be a product of its own posited universal explanatory factors.

According to naturalism, the truth of the naturalist account itself, like every other item of knowledge, is merely the function of the adjustment of the organism to its environment. Therefore, the truth of the naturalist account has no more importance than any other adjustment except for its possible survival value.

But the general principle applies to all reductive, fixed-factor, universal theories. There's simply no way for those theories themselves to break out of their respective explaining/determining factors and be considered true in addition to being themselves merely the product of those factors. There's no remainder because that's what a reduction gets rid of.

Key questions to ask are: When do we get to add the label "true" on top of the explanatory/determining factors of these kinds of reductive theories? What's the criteria? And how can materialists and naturalists criticize theism, when theism too is just as legitimately explained and determined by those same factors as the theories which specify them as all-determining?

Urban's writings were a major influence on Stuart Hackett (who Norman Geisler once told me personally was in his opinion the world's greatest living Christian philosopher), and reading just the first few pages of Language and Reality will clearly show why.

Principle works:
The Intelligible World. Allen and Unwin, 1929.
Language and Reality. Allen and Unwin, 1939.
Beyond Realism and Idealism. Allen and Unwin, 1949.
Humanity and Deity. Allen and Unwin, 1951.

Using Abstract Objects to Deny Their Reality

Abstract Objects Are Merely Useful Fictions,
This I Know,
For The Abstract Objects Tell Me So!

To argue that abstract objects don't really exist, is to use them to adjudicate their own reality. But where do they get that kind of supervisory authority to arbitrate their own existence if they don't exist?

That's why rationalist-objectivist atheism is necessarily theistic about reason and logic, as we all are in reasoning about universals---including the universals that make up general reason and logic themselves. The boot-strapping problem of abstract objects being used to ontologically self-adjudicate still remains, and I haven't seen anything yet that even mentions it---much less actually deals with it.

Abstract objects and universals are necessarily real, and necessarily assumed in order to know contingent reals. If they are necessary for deciding whether or not they're real, then they themselves must have an even higher supervisory ontological status, which means they are necessarily more real than any other objects we ordinarily take as real.

There's simply no way around this without ending up in the old self-referential cul-de-sac. Any examination of what is meant by universals, abstract objects, irreducibly basic categories, and so on, would not itself be possible without those same categories already operating in advance at the highest cognitive levels.

Russell's prohibition of self-referencing statements is an instance of what it prohibits, and so on. It's all about self-reference and ultimate universal criteria and standards of analysis, which are already there logically prior to any analysis of anything including reasoning about current preferences.

That system is already in place and we're always trying to approximate it in some sense and degree, even regardless of prior misses of goals. The bottom line is that if you give reasons for God, those reasons are already assumed to have an ultimate God-level authority in order to adjudicate premises, arguments and claims about the possible reality of God.

Why does faith have to be reasonable or smart or even plausible? Why does it still try to be rational about what it declares itself to be exempt from? Why must there be any intellectual defense at all? If reason is not God-level already, why must theistic or Christian belief have reason and logic's seal of approval in the first place in the slightest?

The entire discussion is a submission to reason's authority, whether one is a believer or an atheist. In fact, the whole issue about the relationship between faith and reason is itself just one big cognitive worship-fest dedicated to reason.

Artwork: Until Now by Ralph Hertle. Available at: From a comment this great artist made on my Ultimate Object blog:

"The two works to which I refer, that were painted by me, the artist, Ralph Hertle, are titled, "Dynamis" and "Until Now". Should someone be interested in these two works, they may be informed that the original works no longer exist and are not available. What are available are ultra-high resolution digital prints of the works, and these are digitally printed on ultra-fine digital printer paper. On a custom order basis the patron may select a size for the print, and a quotation may be written for the work. Paintings that have not been here displayed are also available in digital print form, custom sizes determined, and quotations may also be made. To see one example of a work displayed online go to or, and search for the name. Ralph Hertle. The copyright and all reproduction rights are reserved by the artist, Ralph Hertle. Responses may be sent via email to me at LON521@GMAIL.COM or at . Thank you, Ralph Hertle 225 Parsonage Road Edison, New Jersey USA, 08837."

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Peter Shaw on 1970 Academia

From the introduction to Peter Shaw's The War Against the Intellect: 

"The intellectual climate of our time has undergone a subtle alteration in the past twenty years. Starting in the 1960s a change came over the rules of discourse whereby the marshaling of logic and evidence gradually lost its prestige. In its place right feeling and good intentions came to reign as the highest intellectual values and the most persuasive earnests of high seriousness. It became common, for example, for writers to reassure their readers that they were particularly sensitive to the problems of ethnicity or poverty or disease or any other lamentable status or condition. The spirit of the 1960s, which favored the heart over the head, was making itself felt across the spectrum of argumentative writing and scholarship. This was the war against the intellect.

The war was never explicitly declared, nor was it perceived to be under way by the guardians of culture, scholars, and intellectuals. My own realization that something had changed came after my return to teaching at the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1970, following a year away from higher education. In response to resolutions against the Vietnam War and racism drawn up by the Black Panther Party and approved by the Yale University faculty, a faculty meeting was called at Stony Brook. The meeting took place immediately after the shootings of students at Kent State University, at a time when it was not yet clear exactly what had happened there. The overriding feeling, though, was that the Stony Brook faculty ought to issue some kind of resolution. To my surprise, with little discussion its members adopted the Black Panther resolutions despite their limited relevance to the situation at hand.

Only six or seven faculty members besides myself out of some fifteen hundred present voted against. I attempted to speak but was Page xii prevented from doing so by parliamentary maneuvering. Yet what, I have often wondered, would I have said if recognized by the chair? It would have been insulting to the intelligence of my colleagues to point out the obvious inappropriateness of the resolutions. Something unspoken in the air was leading to a positive vote, but what it might be my year away from the university had rendered me incapable of grasping. The next day when I asked a colleague to give me his view of the Panther resolutions, he frankly described them as irrelevant to our situation. He had voted for them because he shared the general feeling that something had to be done.

The thinking to which I was not yet privy appears in retrospect to have been the product of long-suffered distress over the Vietnam War, brought to a head by the shocking deaths of the Kent State students. In the circumstances it was taken as self-evident by all but six or seven faculty members that reason should be set aside. Henceforth, as it developed, the willed suspension of the critical faculty in the service of a perceived cause or higher principle would come to be regarded as a mark of intellectual distinction. As this attitude seeped into the intellectual process, scholarship and intellectual discourse were invaded by what might be called theories of feeling and personal experience. It was first asserted by a few and eventually accepted by many that the capacity to reason on a subject was less valuable than the bringing to bear of one's political convictions, one's gender experience, or one's social status (or, rather, an attitude toward social status).

A virtually automatic suspension of the rules of proof, reason, and logic was now accorded to certain privileged kinds of discourse: the championing of artistic works by those newly designated as minorities or the oppressed; accusations of Western historical guilt toward the working class, minorities, or the Third World; assaults on established reputations or the elevation of obscure ones. Afterward, the latitude vouchsafed these special subjects was extended wherever ideas claimed a hearing on the basis of their author's generous concern for humanity. Eventually it became accepted that a writer's speculations and prejudices, rather than being subject to skepticism on account of their subjectivity, should be honored for their intentions. The war against the intellect had brought about a decline of discourse, a slackening in the process of critical evaluation.

With traditional constraints on discourse suspendable, the way Page xiii was open in the course of the 1970s and 1980s for untrammeled expression of the oppositionist ideology that had fueled the original assault on values in the 1960s. This ideology in fact grew into an accepted orthodoxy. Guilt and recrimination toward history, culture, government, and institutions became accepted scholarly attitudes. In the typical manner of orthodoxies, these attitudes ceased being put forth as arguments: they had become unstated assumptions, grown so familiar as hardly to merit comment. The result was that, whether out of fear or dulled perceptions, reviewers whose business it was to define and evaluate the arguments that came before them no longer so much as mentioned, let alone challenged, the new orthodoxies. In the universities especially, an atmosphere of intimidation came to prevail. Those who continued to uphold the standards of objectivity were regarded as insensitive and reactionary. Eventually there took place an institutionalization of resistance to authority of all kinds. Literary critics rejected traditional interpretations, scholars found the formal limitations of their disciplines stifling, and humanists objected to the established canon of great works.

A striking symptom of the new state of mind was the dramatic valedictory to the historical profession made in 1971 by the historian Martin Duberman. Accusing himself of wasting ten years as a conventional, uninspired academic biographer, he vowed in future to avoid the disciplined, scholarly approach. In its place he proposed to employ an unspecified psychological subjectivism to depend, as far as one could make out, on hunches rather than conventional historical explanation. The latter presumably rested on a cold, rigid formality for which genuine feeling would be substituted. But Duberman's illustration of the difference between the two was hardly convincing. As I wrote at the time:

In his book on Charles Francis Adams, Duberman recalls, "I had little difficulty describing why he decided to become a lawyer." Now [i.e., in 1971] he suspects that it may not have been the "prestige and income" of the law that influenced his subject but rather "the hope of duplicating the achievements of his father, John Quincy Adams," tempered by a ''fear that he would not measure up to his father." The new speculation reflects Duberman's new interest in the impalpables of psychology, which, he implies, the canons of scholarship prevented him from employing. In fact, his original explanation was un-historical, since the attractions of money and prestige always may be motives for going into the law. The new explanation, on the other hand, could easily have been arrived at within the traditional discipline of history, and indeed has been arrived at by traditional scholarship.

Given the palpable inadequacy of the case against traditional intellectual standards, the silence of most scholars and intellectuals in the face of the war against the intellect stands out as a phenomenon of equal interest and importance to the war itself. At Stony Brook, for example, the importance of the faculty meeting I attended had to do not so much with the campus radicals and their aims as with the acquiescent majority. It was their willingness to suspend critical judgment that would have the most lasting consequences. That they were seized by strong feelings is not to be denied. But another element had come into play as well, one that was made clear in a report on the Yale meeting from which the Panther resolutions derived.

Writing in the New Republic shortly after that meeting, the Yale Law School professor Alexander Bickel described the circumstances surrounding it. On their way to deliberate, the faculty members had passed along a gauntlet of students. The students' intimidating presence, Bickel reported, strongly influenced the conduct of the meeting and the vote in favor of the Black Panther resolutions. At Stony Brook, as it happened, the students were actually allowed in the lecture hall where the meeting convened. The faculty's first act was to approve their unprecedented attendance: seated on the lecture stage and in the balconies overlooking and overseeing the proceedings. Intimidation had become respectable. Henceforward it would prove to be one of the driving forces of the war against the intellect."